Having been infuriated by Lawro’s predictions on BBC Sport’s website, and having many, many times stated to friends and colleagues alike that ‘it can’t be that hard’ and ‘I could do a better job’, here I am, putting my reputation where my mouth is, and giving this prediction lark a go. I will be comparing my predictions to Lawro’s from the last week and keeping a score with the same points system that he uses, so that I can prove that it isn’t that hard! So here we go:
Saturday 11th January
Hull v Chelsea (12:45 GMT)
For a promoted side, Hull have been getting some excellent results this season, and are a real handful for any team when they are at home. Bruce has done a terrific job, and its nice to see his bold decision to go with three at the back really working for him in the Premier League. Because of this, and Chelsea’s patchy recent form, I’m backing the Tigers (only ever a nickname as far as I am concerned) to walk away from this one with a point. Chelsea are a different proposition away from Stamford Bridge, and without a really top striker, I can’t see them consistently picking up all three points in games like these.
Cardiff v West Ham (15:00 GMT)
This season hasn’t been a good one so far for West Ham fans, with their only highlight being that spectacular win against Spurs, and plenty of shocking results, epitomised by their limp display away at Forest in the FA cup, resulting in an embarrassing 5-0 loss. Unfortunately for them, I can’t see any good news for them in this game either, sorry Hammers fans. I feel for Big Sam with his injury woes, and I think the signing of Roger Johnson this week is an astute one, but its not enough to get them anything out of this game away at a rejuvenated Cardiff team, who under their new manager will play more than well enough to dispatch with the Hammers. The Bluebirds have got a good team, and will now be playing some decent attacking football under Ole. This, combined with the feeling that things are only improving for them, the signing of Eikrem being a good example, should give them enough to win this game.
Everton v Norwich (15:00 GMT)
Norwich have a good squad this season, and I fully expect them to avoid relegation fairly easily, but Chris Hughton will have concerns about their lack of goals this year, and I expect him to buy in January in an attempt to rectify the situation. Everton on the other hand will probably just be looking to keep hold of key players Barkley and Baines in this window, and I can’t see Martinez splashing any cash at this time. You can’t blame him either to be honest because they are playing excellent, exciting attacking football, and he made some astute signings in the summer to bolster an already good squad. Lukaku has been an excellent loan signing, and his partnership and understanding with Barkley has been particularly fruitful for the Merseyside team. I know Norwich are playing well at the moment, but I back Everton to win this one at home in what is sure to be a good game.
Fulham v Sunderland (15:00 GMT)
If there was ever a game which could be called a relegation six-pointer in early January, then this is it. Both teams are struggling towards the bottom of the Premier League and points are at a premium for the two managers, even though Fulham have picked up some points recently, they are still right in the thick of it. Incidentally, I think both managers were good appointments by the clubs, are doing decent jobs, and can still expect to be in their jobs next season, regardless of where they end up. Fulham have a decent, experienced squad and their fans have every right to expect more from the team, but I think that’s an indication of just how strong the league is this year, and their inconsistencies under Jol cost him his job. Sunderland on the other hand, havn’t helped themselves this year, and I think Di Canio’s appointment was a bad one, but under Poyet they seem more settled and playing a better brand of football. Sunderland to win this one, with the high of their victory over United in midweek mattering more than the fatigue factor and carrying them through this game.
Southampton v West Brom (15:00 GMT)
Analysis: When I look at this game I see two solid mid-table teams, with West Brom on better form at the moment, and playing really well under interim manager Keith Downing. If I was making the decision, he would get the nod for the rest of the season, because the players clearly enjoy playing for him, and the results reflect that. Despite Southampton’s obvious talent, things havn’t been going their way recently, and I can see these two both playing an open and attacking game here, resulting in a great watch for the neutrals, and a nail-biter for the fans. Score draw for me.
Tottenham v Crystal Palace (15:00 GMT)
Analysis: I know Spurs fans arn’t feeling great about the club right now after a disappointing result and performance against Arsenal, but the simple fact is that Arsenal are probably the best or the second best team in the country right now, and not many teams would get a different result against them. Tim Sherwood plays attacking 4-4-2 and against quality sides that is a risk, but I like the fact he sticks to his way of playing, and that will breed confidence in the team because he clearly believes they can go toe to toe with anyone like that. I know Palace have tightened up and played well under Pulis, but I predict Spurs to bounce back with a win and a good performance here. They need to be careful though, because Palace will be dangerous on the counter-attack, and their formation can leave them vulnerable.
Manchester United v Swansea (17:30 GMT)
Analysis: I know people are going to look at this prediction and think I am mad, but United can’t play this badly forever. They are still a good team, and they will bounce back under Moyes. He is an experienced manager, and these players are champions and will be itching to prove to everyone that they are better than recent results suggest. Expect a very strong United team, possibly with Carrick and Fletcher starting together in midfield for the first time in years, and if Rooney is back from injury as expected, expect him to shine against a Swansea team that have looked inconsistent at times this season. United to bounce back strongly with the sort of performance we expect, and Swansea the unlucky ones who get to be on the receiving end.